As an attorney who has passed several Bar Exams as well as the Customs Broker Exam, I can answer this question from direct personal experience.

A lot of people compare the historical pass rates of the US Customs Broker License Exam with that of Bar Exams, taken by attorneys to qualify to practice law in different states, to draw erroneous conclusions. While the pass rate on the Customs Broker Exam is on average, around 20%, the pass rate for the Bar exam is over 50%, in most states. But pass rates alone do not tell the whole story.

Bar Exams are not open book exams and they require examinees to memorize hundreds of rules in different areas of law. On the other hand, the Customs Broker Exam is an open book exam and while it demands a high level of familiarity with the material, it does not require memorization.

Bar examinees take the exam after several years of intensive preparation. They have to graduate from a 3 year full time Juris Doctor program after which they generally attend a commercial bar prep course which requires about 10 hours of study every day for 2 to 3 months. In comparison, most examinees are able to take the Customs Broker Exam with only about six months of part time preparation.

The Customs Broker Exam is held over a single session of four and half hours. In most states, the Bar Exam is held over two days comprising four sessions of three hours each for a total of twelve hours of testing.

The Customs Broker Exam comprises 80 objective or multiple choice questions. In general, most Bar Exams have about 3 to 6 essays and 200 objective type questions which test both federal and state law subjects. The syllabus for the Bar Exam can cover over 20 different subjects while the Customs Broker Exam focuses on import compliance.

The Bar Exam questions provide fact patterns. Examinees have to spot the relevant issues, identify the applicable rule/s, recall the rule/s from memory, and apply the rules to the relevant facts to draw conclusions. While objective type questions have a single correct answer, essay questions cover multiple issues where separate analyses have to be done to draw conclusions. In comparison, the questions on the Customs Broker exam do not require the same level of analysis or legal expertise, to answer the questions correctly.

However, the degree of difficulty of Bar Exams can vary across states with some states having exams that are a lot more difficult than others. Having passed two Bar Exams in North Carolina and Florida, as well as the US Customs Broker License Exam, I can confirm from direct personal experience that the Bar Exams in most states are a lot more difficult and require much more intense and lengthy preparation than the Customs Broker Exam.

The Customs Broker Exam is not standardized and its level of difficulty varies across exams. Some test administrations result in pass rates as low as 3% while others may result in pass rates over 35%.  With the right guidance and diligent preparation, it is possible for an average student to prepare well enough to pass the Customs Broker Exam within a few attempts.

It is important to give yourself enough time to prepare for this exam, particularly if you are employed and are preparing for the exam on a part time basis. Once you have taken the Customs Broker Exam prep course and read the prescribed reference material several times, it is important to practice taking old exams to become familiar with the material, understand the concepts and question types as well as gain mastery over the frequently tested topics.